For today’s installment of Epic Movie Scenes, I’m here to talk about easily one of the biggest, most lasting moments in film altogether. We all know the reputation following the Star Wars franchise; how it immediately exploded and has since become a bit of shameless marketing that we can’t seem to let go. Regardless of what the movies have become, what can’t be denied is the impact they had, especially the original trilogy. And all of it started with this opening sequence from the original film, later retitled “Episode IV: A New Hope.”
Why Is It So Epic?
Even as a movie that’s technically considered the fourth installment, the film opens by showing exactly what we need, with or without the opening text. We have the small rebel ship fleeing and firing back at a Star Destroyer, which looms overhead, going on and on just like the size and strength of the Empire. From the first time you watch this scene, it sticks with you. There are movie scenes that we can remember in bits and pieces, but this one is permanently implanted into your mind. I can still remember the first time watching this as a kid, I thought to myself “how long and big IS that ship?”
One thing that makes the transition from the plain yellow text to the detailed ships is the music, courtesy of probably the biggest film composer ever, John Williams. We nicely move from the upbeat, triumphant theme played at the beginning of each movie to a few quick seconds of adrenaline-building music before the ships are well within our sight.
Then we cut to being on board the rebel ship itself, with plenty of C-3PO’s pessimistic statements serving as morale for the rebels. When we see the ship again, it’s covered in shadow while being pulled into the Star Destroyer, more or less preparing us for what will inevitably ensue. And then the Storm Troopers come in flocks, invading the ship and taking out rebels with little effort or repercussion. Finally, to top it all off, we get our introduction of Darth Vader, who we only need to hear breathe as he looks over the fallen bodies. His mechanical, all-black costume is a perfect representation for who this character is to us, while also serving as a contrast to the white armored Storm Troopers. On one hand there are several plain characters who blend into the rebel ship’s white walls, carrying out orders; on the other there’s Vader, standing out and proving himself the darker, less conventional being.
This scene was big when it came out and continues to prove itself 35 years later. Many films are still put to shame by this opening, which proves you don’t need something long and drawn out to leave a lasting impression.